Tested by Zion

The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

A former top National Security Council officer in the Bush White House tells the full inside story of the Bush administration and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

Read an excerpt of Tested by Zion.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is once again near the top of President Obama's second term agenda. In Tested By Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), writes that as far as peace is concerned, "There is hope, but no chance. At least there is no chance for a magic formula conjured up in a diplomatic salon that will end decades of conflict."

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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Territorial Disputes


Palestinian Territories

Drawing on his experience as deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, Abrams provides a detailed portrait of the Bush's eight-year effort to foster a peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. Abrams seeks to set the record straight on the question of how engaged President Bush was in negotiating a solution: "The usual complaint about Bush policy—that the president and his staff paid little or no attention to the Middle East (or, in another version, paid no attention until the last years in office when it was simply too late to achieve much)—is nonsense."

Abrams brings the reader right into the White House as well as the palaces and offices of Middle Eastern leaders, showing what meetings—and at times clashes—at the highest levels are truly like. He also offers unique insights into the inner workings of the administration's diplomacy, including: President Bush's relationships with Israeli prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, Palestinian leaders Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as well as how electoral politics affected the president's decisions.

Abrams also provides his "lessons learned." One is to focus less on negotiations and more on the realities on the ground, including how Palestinians live day to day: "The lack of real-world progress actually threatens any talks that may be underway, because Palestinians will give them no credence if the context is a worsening of the conditions under which they live. Talks may then appear to be an Israel trick, a means of prolonging the occupation."

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

More on:

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Territorial Disputes


Palestinian Territories

Reviews and Endorsements

Winner of the 2013 Washington Institute Book Prize (Bronze)

Catnip for anyone interested in diplomatic history or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Washington Post

The definitive history of the last Republican president's considerable accomplishments in the Levant.

Wall Street Journal

Elliott Abrams played a major role in the development of Mid-East policy during the Bush administration. He has written an excellent account that will be an invaluable source for future historians and for all who want to understand one of the most important chapters of that era.

Richard B. Cheney, former Vice President of the United States

Elliott Abrams was at the epicenter of President Bush's commitment to forge a sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tested by Zion, Abrams's fascinating new book, takes the reader inside the debates that took place in the Oval Office with the president and his senior advisors on Middle East peace.

Dr. Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State

Elliott Abrams has written the definitive insider account of the U.S.-Israeli relationship during the critical years under President George W. Bush. This fascinating, important book is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of Israel, the U.S.-Israeli relationship, and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

Joseph I. Lieberman, U.S. Senator (I-CT)

Abrams's riveting insider account of the Bush administration's policies and actions with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a must-read. Chock-full of details that are relevant not only to historians but to future policy makers, Tested by Zion is accessible, readable, and brilliantly presented. Although I don't always agree with my former student, Elliott Abrams, I always learn from him and am proud to have been one of his teachers. This book really matters.

Alan M. Dershowitz, Harvard Law School, author of Trials of Zion

Elliott Abrams has written an excellent book on a hitherto neglected aspect of Bush administration foreign policy. Meticulous and yet gripping, Tested by Zion weighs the opportunities for diplomacy against its limitations more convincingly than any other account I've seen of the recent Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Highly recommended.

John Lewis Gaddis, Yale University

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